Is this a little too contrived?

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Is this a little too contrived?

Post by GrinningManiac on Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:27 pm

Basically, in the story I'm writing...

There's a type of Cool Sword that doubles as a Another Dimension-travelling MacGuffin. They were the Weapon of Choice of an ancient order of Knightly Soldier-Scientists which had been destroyed long ago, all their technology and knowledge being subsequently lost.

The hero of the story, Arnold Wilkes, is given a sword by Burton the Younger so that he dosen't look out of place (this world being one where martial honour is still relevant in male society). It turns out, however, that the one of these missing Cool Swords was the sword given to our hero!

It will turn out that Burton's family descend from one of the Knights that escaped destruction and settled down incognito a la Ben Kenobi. 'cept unlike Ben he gave up on ever 'saving the world' and settled down with a family. Burton descends (even before he knew of his Knightly background) from a LONG, LONG line of badasses and thus he has quite a few Ancestral Weapons hanging around, so it's no surpise that he's in no way fazed or surprised that he has a few swords kicking about, the origin and significance of which are lost on him. This is just 'a sword I have' that he never uses (it's not exactly in great condition) and has no (known) sentimental value to him.

The weapon will, at the most inconvinient time in the story, activate and hurtle our hero across the dimensions and strand him on his own. They'll be reunited and whatnot but that's less of a contrived circumstance.

Of course, when they find out about the weapon, Burton will want it back. That's another part of the plot, though, that isn't of concern to me.

My concern is this :- is it too contrived to expect Burton to give Arnold a sword that happens to be one of the last remaining relics of a bygone age of technology that convinently allows the plot to advance...and none of them (or any of Burton's forebearers) were in any way aware of the importance and potential of this weapon?

Especially considering you, the reader, are not aware of the weapon's past and power until it activates and all hell breaks loose. It kinda stinks of an Ass Pull.

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Re: Is this a little too contrived?

Post by Xandy on Mon Aug 22, 2011 7:02 pm

Perhaps you can mention/hint at the weapon's abilities beforehand, maybe in a prologue? Also how does Burton get the sword in the first place?

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Re: Is this a little too contrived?

Post by Wayward on Mon Aug 22, 2011 8:09 pm

In medias res. The audience should accept the idea if you start with the sword activating, then flash back to Wilkes receiving the sword, then explain the sword's origin/significance.

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Re: Is this a little too contrived?

Post by GrinningManiac on Mon Aug 22, 2011 9:58 pm

Warmaster Xandus wrote:Perhaps you can mention/hint at the weapon's abilities beforehand, maybe in a prologue? Also how does Burton get the sword in the first place?

A prologue would make sense. I'll add that in. Burton came into possession of the sword through inheritance. The owner oof the sword (Allemange Burton) was an ancient ancestor of Burton. He settled down in the dimension Burton now hails from and his family became strongly tied to the kingdom in which Allemange settled, quickly losing knowledge of their origins (Allemange never telling anyone but the king of his origins). The sword lay about in family armouries and/or bankvaults for years until the kingdom was forced to up roots (an entirely different story) and become nomadic. The sword has remained in the armouries of the kingdom ever since. Burton picked it for its size - it's a large, two-handed weapon (what the ancient Knights would call a "Schveihantler" - a Two-hander) that neatly ticks the two boxes of being an important-looking male status symbol and being too big for anyone to feasibly expect Arnold to use it (thereby averting raising suspicion by wandering around with a sword and not defending himself when required).

Wayward wrote:In medias res. The audience should accept the idea if you start with the sword activating, then flash back to Wilkes receiving the sword, then explain the sword's origin/significance.

This would make sense. Unfortunately the sword activates quite late in the book, around the start-of-the-middle. To randomly have the start of the novel (after two seperate prolouges!) contain a scene like this and then go through an hour's worth of reading leading up to a random Zelda-esuqe "you got the thing!" moment.

The idea of the prologue would make sense, though. The sword is fairly distinctive - it's flambard (wavy, for you non-sword-know-it-alls) and quite shiny given its long history of intense use. I describe it in the prologue and later when it shows up.

That makes sense! However, I still look for any criticism. I made this story up on the fly - I added characters, scenes and backstory as I wrote. I've only just reached the stage where I actually understand how everything fits together, and I appreciate that things still need to be ironed out (the Prolouge in the "prologue and first chapter" (can be found on this subforum) needs rewriting because at the time it was an exercise in inventing atmosphere and coming up with an In Medias Res setting on the go. It's dreadfully purple and rather inconvinient now that I understand the parameters of what I've created.

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मैं हिन्दी जानना चाहता हूँ…અને ગુજરાતી…ਅਤੇ ਪੰਜਾਬੀ…এবং হয়ত বাংলা.
Aprenderé a bailar salsa y nada detendrá me. 对不起我的中文不好,对不起我不知道你说什么。
Не слышны в саду даже шорохи. Все здесь замерло до утра, Если б знали вы, как мне дороги, Подмосковные вечера.
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Re: Is this a little too contrived?

Post by GrinningManiac on Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:53 pm

Rewrote how he found the sword

Arnold Wilkes picks out the sword for himself after going through quite a few 'could-actually-use-in-a-fight' swords in the armoury (remember - looking for a suitable weapon to fit into the martial society he is stuck in) and finding this old, battered sword shoved in the corner from long ago.

This explains why it's so unwieldy, why it hasn't been found/maintained/used-beforehand-by-Burton, why Burton isn't aware of its existence and why it's such an old make of sword.

Happy happy!

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मैं हिन्दी जानना चाहता हूँ…અને ગુજરાતી…ਅਤੇ ਪੰਜਾਬੀ…এবং হয়ত বাংলা.
Aprenderé a bailar salsa y nada detendrá me. 对不起我的中文不好,对不起我不知道你说什么。
Не слышны в саду даже шорохи. Все здесь замерло до утра, Если б знали вы, как мне дороги, Подмосковные вечера.
The problem with having an open mind, you see, is that people insist on coming along and putting things in it
- Sir Terry Pratchett
I have a blog nao
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Re: Is this a little too contrived?

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